What Is Language and How Do We Look at It?

  • Theodore Shapiro
Part of the Cognition and Language book series (CALS)


Everyone seems to have a general understanding that he or she speaks a language, or, if a polyglot, many languages. Common sense usually suggests that a language serves the purpose of communication. However, it is also common to encounter extensions of the term language in such phrases as the language of love, the language of the birds, the language of mathematics. These extensions may be metaphoric and make for a quandary as to how to limit the term so that its extensions and applications do not add to our confusion. This chapter will address the issue of clarifying terms and applying a number of frames of reference to see if they aid in systematizing the data available on language.


Small Unit Language Family Speech Event Term Language Sound Symbolism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodore Shapiro
    • 1
  1. 1.Cornell University Medical College New YorkNew YorkUSA

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